Sunday, August 06, 2006

Five Favorite Comedies

With any genre there’s always the problem of where to draw the line. Comedies might be the toughest category. Do you go with the best movies that are funny, or the funniest movies? What about musical comedies? Are they still as funny on the second, or third, viewing?

In the end, each of us has to decide what’s a comedy, and what’s something else. For instance, I enjoy the films of the Cohen Brothers, although none are on my favorite five comedies today. Still two of their better films can be used to illustrate where I’m drawing my line at this time. Both “The Big Lebowski” (1998) and “Fargo” (1996) are funny movies. As it happens I like “Fargo” better, overall, but I’d say it’s not a true comedy; it rides an edge. But “The Big Lebowski” is a full-blown comedy, no doubt about it.

To me, the main concern is with the word “favorite.” In order to be on any of my five favorite films lists I must have seen the picture at least twice, with most lists it’s many times. Accordingly, my five favorite comedies, in alphabetical order, are:

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” (1972); Directed by Luis Buñuel; Cast: Fernando Rey, Paul Frankeur, Delphine Seyrig
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964); Directed by Stanley Kubrick; Cast: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden
Duck Soup” (1933); Directed by Leo McCarey, Cast: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Margaret Dumont
The Philadelphia Story” (1940); Directed by George Cukor; Cast Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart
The Producers” (1968): Directed by Mel Brooks; Cast: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars

1 comment:

JPTERP said...

Wow--talk about a challenge. I haven't seen "Duck Soup" or "The Philadelphia Story"--but I'd agree with the other three picks--very funny.

To the list I'd add Milos Foreman's "Fireman's Ball"--a madcap comedy about a beauty contest set in a small town in 1960s Communist Czechoslovkia.

The Farrelly Brother's "Something About Mary"--which masters the art of "plant and payoff" (e.g. plot details mentioned in the first 20 minutes that seem like throw-away details, which come into play towards the end of the movie). I count at least 15 of these off-handed "plants".

Also Preston Sturges "Miracle at Morgan's Creek", Billy Wilder's "Some Like it Hot", and Ernest Lubitsch's "Unfaithfully Yours" draw serious consideration.